Ill. inmate says he confessed to end cop torture

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A man whose death sentence was commuted to life in prison by former Illinois Gov. George Ryan told a judge Monday that Chicago police officers tortured and beat him so badly that he would have signed anything, including two murder confessions.

A man whose death sentence was commuted to life in prison by former Illinois Gov. George Ryan told a judge Monday that Chicago police officers tortured and beat him so badly that he would have signed anything, including two murder confessions.

In a hearing to decide whether he will get a new trial, Cortez Brown said officers at Area 2 detective headquarters on the city’s South Side, working under former Police Commander Jon Burge, coerced him into admitting to the murders by threatening him, punching him and hitting him with a flashlight.

“I would say whatever they wanted me to say and sign whatever they wanted me to sign,” Brown testified as Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, a supporter, looked on from the courtroom.

Brown, 38, was convicted in 1992 of gunning down two men in separate killings as part of a gang rivalry. He was convicted of first-degree murder and spent more than a decade on death row before Ryan, citing flaws in the death penalty system, in 2003, spared every condemned inmate from execution. Most had their sentences commuted to life in prison, including Brown, who claims he is innocent.

During Monday’s hearing, three officers who worked under Burge invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on almost every question.

Vincenzo Chimera with the Illinois attorney general’s office, which represents the police, said Brown’s claims were not credible, that he changed his story and had an opportunity to bring up the torture allegations before his conviction.

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